Rep. Alcee L. Hastings did the one thing folks from the Lone Star State do not abide. He messed with Texas.
During a House Rules Committee hearing Monday on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Florida Democrat grew heated in an argument with Republican Michael C. Burgess of Texas over states that did not create their own insurance exchanges, which is the subject of a pending Supreme Court case.
“Had governors worked with the administration, we might not be in this position,” Hastings said. “I don’t know about in your state, which I think is a crazy state to begin with – and I mean that just as I said it.”
Perhaps it was luck or careful calculation that the panel’s chairman and fellow Texan Pete Sessions was not in the room during the testy exchange. Instead, Republican Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, who was stepping in for Sessions, quickly tried to intervene by cutting off Hastings for interrupting Burgess.
But Hastings wasn’t in the mood to be messed with either. He loudly asserted that he actually had reclaimed his time, to which Burgess replied: “The gentleman made a very defamatory statement about my state and I will not stand here and listen to it!”
“Fine, then you don’t have to listen, you can leave if you choose,” Hastings shot back. “I told you what I think about Texas – I wouldn’t live there for all the tea in China.”
The partisan bickering underscored the intense debates that have long surrounded President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. The House has voted more than 50 times to roll back all or portions of the law.
Before approving a closed rule for the repeal bill, which is expected to be considered on the House floor Tuesday, Burgess asked for an apology.
“You will wait until hell freezes over, for me to say anything in an apology,” Hastings said. “I would apologize to you, if I was directing my comments to you. I was commenting about the state that you happened to be a resident in.”
Burgess maintained that the move was “uncalled for” and said he didn’t know why any lawmaker would do such a thing.
Sessions returned at the end of the meeting, clenching a Diet Coke and looking slightly flustered, before delivering a somber message: “I became aware of the dialogue that took place.”
No word on how the tight-knit Texas delegation intends to respond to the allegations slamming their state.